Sunday, May 27, 2007

TIMELINE - 27 MAY 1967

"In 1967 Israel did not wake up one morning and decide to go to war - she woke up one morning and found she had to defend herself."

With the approach of the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, I begin today a daily timeline of events from

13 MAY 1967

Anwar Sadat arrives back from Moscow, primed with misinformation he gives to President Nasser that Israel is massing 10-12 brigades in preparation for an attack on Syria, supposedly to take place May 17.

14 MAY 1967

Israel learns that Egyptian troops have been put on alert and begun reinforcing units in the Sinai.

15 MAY 1967

Israel responds by ordering some regular armoured units to reinforce the Sinai front and drafted a message to ensure Egypt understood that Israel was responding to Egyptian actions and not massing troops on its own initiative: "Israel wants to make it clear to the government of Egypt that it has no aggressive intentions whatsoever against any Arab state at all."

16 MAY 1967

Nasser demands withdrawal of 3,400 man UN Emergency Force (UNEF)

Egypt now has a further 30,000 troops to the 30-35 thousand permanently stationed on the peninsula, plus 200 tanks, and it was continuing to pour in more troops all the time.

17 MAY 1967

A series of emergency meetings was held by the Cabinet in Israel. There was great apprehension when head of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Aharon Yariv, reported to army headquarters, apparently mistakenly, that the Egyptian army was equipped with poison gas (Israel was unprepared for chemical warfare).

"All Egypt is now prepared to plunge into total war which will put an end to Israel" - Cairo Radio

18 MAY 1967

"The Zionist barrack in Palestine is about to collapse and be destroyed. Every one of the hundred million Arabs has been living for the past nineteen years on one hope – to live to see the day Israel is liquidated…There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land."

"As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel….The sole method we shall apply against Israel is a total war which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence". - Cairo Radio’s Voice of the Arabs broadcast.

UN Secretary General U Thant sent cable to Cairo advising that UNEF would be withdrawn. He added the rider: "Irrespective of the reasons for the actions you have taken, in all frankness, may I advise you that I have serious misgivings about it for…I believe that this Force has been an important factor in maintaining the relative quiet in the area of its deployment during the past ten years and that its withdrawal may have grave implications for peace." - Charles W Yost "How it Began", Foreign Affairs, Winter 1968.

The UK were deeply upset at the U Thant caving in without bringing the matter to the UN General Assembly: "It really makes a mockery of the peacekeeping work of the United Nations if, as soon as the tension rises, the United Nations force it told to leave. Indeed the collapse of UNEF might well have repercussions on other United Nations peacekeeping forces, and the credibility of the United Nations in this field are thrown into question.""UNEF was established with the full concurrence of the United Nations…any decision to withdraw the force should be taken in the United Nations after full consultation with all the countries involved – it should not be taken as the result of some unilateral decision." - George Brown (British Foreign Secretary), speaking at United Nations Association annual dinner in London.

19 MAY 1967

"I do not want to cause alarm but it is difficult for me not to warn the Council that, as I see it, the position in the Middle East is more disturbing…indeed more menacing than at any time since the fall of 1956." - UN Secretary General U Thant, Security Council meeting. - U.N. S/7906 26th May 1967.

Now an estimated 40 thousand Egyptian troops and 500 tanks in the Sinai. Israel ordered an immediate large-scale mobilization of reserves.

20 MAY 1967

"Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland". - Syria’s Defence Minister Hafez Assad (later to be Syria’s President).

Egypt and Israel faced each other directly tonight as the United Nations Emergency Force, which had stood between them for more than ten years, began its official withdrawal.

22 MAY 1967

Egypt’s President Nasser announced: "The Israeli flag shall not go through the Gulf of Aqaba. Our sovereignty over the entrance to the Gulf cannot be disputed".

"We want a full scale, popular war of liberation… to destroy the Zionist enemy" - Syrian president Dr. Nureddin al-Attasi speech to troops.

"Israel today proposed a mutual reduction in troop concentrations in the Middle East, while its Arab neighbours laid plans to strengthen still further their forces round her borders…" - The Times

23 MAY 1967

Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran (Gulf of Aqaba ) to Israeli shipping, thereby cutting off Israel’s only supply route with Asia and stopping the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran. By international law, this was an act of war. (Reported that day in every newspaper in the world)

President Johnson tonight condemned the Arab blockade of Israel shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba as "illegal and potentially disastrous to the cause of peace"..."The purported closing of the Gulf of Aqaba has brought a new and grave dimension to the crisis. The United States considers the gulf to be an international waterway."...Mr Johnson condemned the "hurried withdrawal" of the United Nations emergency force from Gaza and Sinai, and the "recent build-up of military forces in the area". - Times May 24th 1967.

24 MAY 1967

Israel’s foreign minister Abba Eban met with UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson at 10 Downing Street. Wilson revealed that the Cabinet had met that morning and concluded that Egypt’s blockade "must not be allowed to triumph; Britain would join with others in an effort to open the Straits."

26 MAY 1967

"Taking over Sharm el Sheikh meant confrontation with Israel (and) also meant that we were ready to enter a general war with Israel. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel” - Gamal Abdel Nasser speech to the General Council of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions - broadcast in Arabic by Cairo Radio’s Voice of the Arabs, Gamal Abdel Nasser, 19.35 GMT, 26th May 1967 (the speech made front page news in The Times May 27th).

27 MAY 1967

"However, Israelis took (the) occasion (to) embark on (an) emotional, evidently sincere, exposition (of) their thesis that evidence available to them (was) conclusive that Nasser has 'crossed his Rubicon' and surprise aerial attack (was) expected any moment. My remonstrances that our most careful and equally authoritative assessment is to contrary were met by argument we (were) behind (the) times and essential intelligence (in) this regard had been received in last few hours. They talked in terms of surprise air strike knocking out Israeli airfields and rendering their response ineffective. They said they had intercepts of Egyptian messages to confirm situation as they see it. Also frightened by fact four MIGs overflew Israel yesterday and Israeli Airforce (were) not able intercept." - (extract) Telegram From the US Embassy in Israel to the US Department of State

Nasser cancels a planned Egyptian attack on Israel (Operation fajr - Dawn), planned for following day, after it became obvious that the Israelis knew about the plan.

The NY Times reported that Jordan would admit Saudi and Iraqi forces into its country to do battle with Israel.

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